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Hello. We are Matt and Keri Bye. We are fairly new to the Blessed Sacrament family, having joined exactly two years ago.  We could not be happier about choosing Blessed Sacrament as our church home, and we promote it to our friends and family every chance we get. Last week, Jennifer spoke about how stewardship is more about giving than receiving. More specifically receiving God’s gifts gratefully and gracefully. I’d like to tell you about how Matt and I have learned how those gifts are sometimes disguised as tragedy. 

Last October, two days after Oktoberfest, we unexpectedly lost our unborn daughter Adelyn at 30 weeks gestation. We were shocked and devastated. We are very blessed with amazing family that were there for us. It was not just our immediate family and loyal friends, but our new Blessed Sacrament family, you were there for us then and have continued to be there for us this past year, through prayer, kind words and hugs, and great friends that can make us laugh when we really need it most. This was the first time in my life I really felt the gift of stewardship.

Fr. Duling is a friend of mine from high school and was at the hospital with us last October and officiated Adelyn’s funeral. He reminded us that everything happens for a reason even though that reason is not always for us to understand. We took those words to heart and decided that we were not going to wallow in our sadness, but instead treat it as a gift from God. It is the gift of knowing that our daughter is now in Heaven; the gift of having an even bigger reason to get to Heaven; the gift of growing closer than ever before as a couple. We wanted to share these gifts with others. In just this past year, Keri has helped a number of families through difficulty and is a shining example of how to receive God’s unexpected gifts gracefully and gratefully.

And then it came time to fill out our stewardship forms for 2016. Another gift that we had learned from our daughter Adelyn is the reminder that we, as individuals, are not the owners or masters of our lives and time. We are simply the managers of our lives and each life belongs to God. All that we are and all that we have is a gift from Him. How are we going to use that time, talent, and treasure to glorify and serve Him? When we keep this in mind as we are budgeting our money and budgeting our time, it becomes easier to make stewardship a priority. I encourage you to get your stewardship forms in by next week, if you haven’t already. 

I’ve coached high school football for the better part of the past decade, so I was very grateful when, in his letter that is in our stewardship packets, Father used a football analogy to describe Blessed Sacrament’s “upperclassmen” level of commitment and responsibility. We like to think of the stewardship form as our playbook or game plan for the year. You don’t set yourself up for success without a clear game plan, and we believe that also applies to stewardship. We find ourselves answering the call for stewardship a lot lately, and it has been one of the most rewarding years of our lives. As a young couple, we can’t stand here and claim to have it all figured out, but it truly seems that the more we give, we inevitably receive at least double. 

We are so excited for all the great relationships and friendships we are building, and the peace of mind in knowing that if we ever need anything, we have an army of supporters that have our back. So I say yes when Joe Hitt calls; when Pat Harter calls; when Father Jirak calls. Then I go home and tell Keri, “Congratulations! You’re now the assistant middle school track coach.” And it all started with saying yes when Brandon and Jill Martin recommended that we go to Men’s Club and Altar Society. 

We are so honored to be a part of a parish that makes stewardship such a priority. We are eager to continue our growth journey as Catholic stewards, and look forward to raising our son who is arriving in February, according to the Blessed Sacrament stewardship way of life. Thank you for your time and God Bless.

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